Northern Iowan

Rialto closed until further notice

Early Tuesday, Sept. 4, the sprinkler system was activated in the Rialto Dining Center, causing it to flood. The dining center is closed until further notice.

ALANNA BYRNES, Staff Writer

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Around 2 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 4, a joint steam line in the steam tunnel underneath the Towers Center broke, causing its boiling hot content to spread around the building, including the Rialto Dining Center.

The excessive steam activated the fire suppression system in the dining center, causing the sprinklers to come on and cause further damage to the building’s interior due to large quantities of water that poured into the the dining center.

Glenn Gray, executive director of residence, described the significance of the amount of steam on site, telling the NI, “Once the staff responded to the situation, [and arrived at the Rialto] they could not see more than two feet in front of them.”

Excessive water and overheating caused damage in many areas of the dining center: the veneer coating on tables, chairs and walls have peeled off, plastic outlet covers and pop machine tubes have melted and ceiling tiles have caved in from the excess weight of the water.

Rialto was not the only building affected by the steam line breaking. The elevators in the residence halls connected to the dining center, Bender and Dancer, were temporarily broken, and the hot water system in the halls was also damaged. Both issues in Bender and Dancer were promptly fixed the next day.

According to Gray, along with the damage to the structure of the dining center, the fire panel within the building was also damaged and needs to be replaced in order for cooking of any kind to occur.

Although the fire suppression system still works, the fire panel in the dining center is what contacts authorities if a fire were to happen, and so the building must be monitored by staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to watch for any signs of a fire until the fire panel is fixed.

Since discovering all of the damages to the dining center, the Department of Residence (DOR) has found solutions and created a plan to recover Rialto.

Over one hundred fans and dehumidifiers have been scattered throughout the dining center to dry out and cool down the building, a construction company has been hired to fix the structural damages and further plans are being made to replace damaged items such as the tables and chairs.

Moving forward, Gray said that “Our number one objective is getting the center open for students.” Gray explained that many steps are being taken to provide students with the simplest yet most helpful plan as possible.

Starting Monday, Sept. 10, a “brown bag breakfast” will be provided for students daily from 7:30-9:15 a.m. Along with breakfast, on Wednesday, Sept. 12, a “Walking Taco Dinner” will be provided from 5-6 p.m. These meals will be provided in Bender and Dancer Hall’s first floor lounges.

Students are welcome to dine at the Piazza Dining Center for the time-being.      According to Gray, “Piazza Dining Center is designed to be able to handle the capacity of occupancy that we currently have in residence.”

Student employees at Rialto have been encouraged to either work at Piazza, or decide to take time off until Rialto opens.

According to Gray, on Wednesday, Sept. 12, DoR has a meeting planned to decide a specific “reopen” date for Rialto.

In the meantime, DoR encourages students to keep up to date with their pages on Facebook and Twitter, and on their website at dor.uni.edu/rialto-recovery, where they will be providing further information as it becomes available.

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Rialto closed until further notice